Pulaski County Plan Commission Votes to Ban Wind Turbines

The Pulaski County Advisory Plan Commission has recommended banning wind turbines. The vote drew a standing ovation from a packed room of local residents and landowners at the Star City Community Building Monday. It came after a public hearing on proposed changes to the county’s Unified Development Ordinance that would have significantly restricted wind turbine development.

The reasons cited for banning it outright included the safety and welfare of the community, flicker issues, and questions about the county’s ability to provide fire protection to the structures. Those were many of the same concerns raised by the 17 audience members who spoke during the hearing.

Some addressed the specific proposals in the ordinance, calling for increased setbacks and protections for property owners. Others seemed to address local landowners themselves, warning them of the potential drawbacks to entering into long-term leases with wind energy companies. Some acknowledged that a wind farm might mean some revenue for the county in the short-term, but felt it would do little to stop the population decline and attract new residents.

In any case, most of those in attendance were simply against allowing wind turbines at all, as one member of the public pointed out. “There’s been a lot of good points brought up about shadow flicker and setbacks going back to the property, but in all honestly, you have your mind made up whether you want them or not,” he said. “So let’s see, how many people here want them? Huh, no one raised their hand. I think if people were passionate about this, they’d be here fighting for them.”

Following the public hearing, commission member Lawrence Loehmer moved to place a three-year moratorium on wind turbine construction. But others felt it would that would simply push a decision into the future, rather than resolving the issue. Commission member Matt Rausch noted that the ordinance changes that were proposed would make it very difficult for wind energy companies to develop in the county, anyway, and member Rick Stone made the motion to ban the turbines outright.

The plan commission’s recommendation will now go to the county commissioners for final approval. Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan Origer noted that the county has to provide legal justification for banning the structures. He pointed out that the commissioners could ask the plan commission to refine the approved language, based on the county attorney’s recommendation.

County Attorney Kevin Tankersley was not in attendance Monday. Neither were plan commission members Mike Tiede and Phil Woolery.